More spring color

If you live on the West Coast, I’m sure you know what I mean when I say this has been one weird spring. Temperatures have been below normal for an unusually long period of time, so plants we expect to see in early to mid-March are just now peeking their heads out of the ground (like lily of the valley). It’s been so cold at night that we haven’t even planted tomatoes yet although that’s on the list for this weekend.

Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica), blooming as reliably as ever

Poking around in the garden at lunchtime today (yes, I did check for more bamboo shoots), I kept shaking my head at how confused the normal growth pattern has been this year. But things are finally getting into full swing, and once daytime temperatures reliably stay above 70°F, perennials like echinaceas, salvias, and rudbeckias will finally catch up to where they would normally be in the middle of April.

Coral aloe (Aloe striata) blooming for the first time ever. The red flower spike on the left is from a kangaroo paw (Anigozanthos flavidus).
Our red hot pokers (Kniphofia uvaria) are finally starting to bloom. I do have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this plant: I really like the flowers, short-lived as they are, but the leaves are pretty unattractive in my eyes.
110414_succulents nasturtiums
Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) growing in between succulents in our back yard. The nasturtiums were here when we bought the house in 1997, and they have reseeded year after year. Many different things have been planted in this narrow bed over the years, but the nasturtiums have remained.
Coral bell in full bloom (Heuchera x brizoides 'Firefly'). The plant behind it is our remaining Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha).
Heuchera villosa ‘Caramel’. It is supposed to withstand our hot summers better than most über-engineered heuchera hybrids, but the colors still fade to an unattractive brown by the middle of the summer.
Variegated flowering maple (Abutilon pictum 'Thompsonii') growing behind—and on top of—a giant farfugium (Farfugium japonicum ‘Giganteum)
Newly emerged Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra'),
as electric as can be. The tips of the blades will eventually turn dark red.
More ornamental grasses starting their initial growth spurt:
Korean feather grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha)…
…and Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’)
Variegated Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans 'Stairway to Heaven'), hard to beat when it comes to foliage. This is a new addition to our woodland garden, and I hope it will thrive.
More stragglers arriving late on the scene this year:
Hosta plantaginea ‘Aphrodite’…
…and lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). This is a transplant from my mother-in-law’s garden in Mount Shasta and does remarkably well here in our much warmer climate.
And finally a plant that I love as much as I hate it: peppermint (Mentha x piperita). It’s growing so fast at the moment, it feels I could sit there and watch it. Aside from our running bamboos—which are confined to containers—this is easily the most invasive plant in our yard. We use peppermint for cooking and drinks (think mojitos!) but do try to keep on top of it because its rhizomes can travel long distances FAST. Luckily, it’s easy to pull out.


  1. Your plants may be late getting started, but they're still ahead of most of them in this country. =)

    Peppermint easy to pull out? You must have some of that awesome, loose California soil. Try pulling it in clay and it's "hey, I just created 20 more plants because of the rhizomes that have broken and stayed in the ground". I still grow it though -- I'm a sucker for minty-smelling plants.

  2. Alan, actually, our native soil is clay as well but the places were our mint travels the farthest is relatively loose amended soil. In heavy clay it doesn't go very far. But I'm constantly pulling mint out anyway to keep it to a manageable clump.

  3. Enjoyed the tour of your yard. Our Lilies of the Valley haven't even poked their heads out of the ground yet! But the Bleeding Heart is up about 4 inches. Haven't checked the Bamboo yet!

  4. Fantastic plants Gerhard! The shot of the Calla lily flower is fab!

    Your succulents are looking good, especially the variegated Agave desmettiana, wish I could achieve such symmetry on mine.

  5. We have soooo many callas in bloom right now. Time for the girls to cut some for a bouquet.

    I love our Agave desmettiana. It's grown into a really beautiful shape. There are lots of pups all around the base. I suppose I should remove some and pot them up for use elsewhere in the yard, or to give away.

    What's going on with yours?


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